Russell Shorto

How to Plant a Tree in the Desert

by Russell Shorto

July 11, 2017

President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord was perplexing to Europeans for many reasons, not least of which was their determination that climate change represents a for-profit opportunity. In particular, the Dutch, who more or less invented water management in Europe, a millennium or so ago, have developed a specialty in climate-change-related innovation.

Four years ago, Jurriaan Ruys was a partner at McKinsey, focussing on global sustainability issues. The Dutchman had been an environmentalist since the age of eight, when he went door to door handing out stickers to save the sea turtles, but he became frustrated by the abstract nature of his work — flying around the world, advising governments on long-term climate strategy. Eventually, he up and quit.